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Motor vehicle accidents and brain injuries


Brain injuries are not reserved for catastrophic car accidents. Even minor collisions can result in severe concussions and other forms of damage to the brain. Crash victims suffer a variety of effects, some that are life-changing.

Viji Santhakumar is an associate professor of molecular, cell, and systems biology at the University of California, Riverside, and is considered an expert in epilepsy and traumatic brain injuries. The National Institute of Neurological Disaster and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health is providing $2.3 million in funding to research moderate concussive brain injuries, many that occur following motor vehicle accidents.

Understanding the impact of serious concussions

While concussions are not considered fatal, those that result in serious damage to the brain require a doctor’s care. Professor Santhakumar will focus on brain injuries and the resulting memory deficits and possible epilepsy. The goal of the five-year study is to understand how brain injuries impact learning, memory, and other functions.

According to Santhakumar, a brain injury suffered following a car accident could result in existing neurons combining with new and potentially abnormal neurons. The combination could affect the delivery of information through electrical impulses and chemical signals, sending data to various areas of the brain and the nervous system.

The effects of that sudden increase of neurons could result in seizures and long-term cognitive decline. Not all researchers are on board with that theory. The study aims to look at those new neurons and the impact on memory processing and potential gaps, along with possible post-injury epilepsy.

Medical care is paramount following a motor vehicle accident, regardless of the collision’s severity. Legal representation may also be necessary if negligence played a role in a life-changing brain injury.